Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Taps Reversed - Lyrics

-- Christine Fellows and John K. Samson

All the unpaid bills wrestling interest rates
while past due dates wait with their boutonnieres

And the slumping bike
strangled with the lock that we forgot the combination to

The old house drinks everything we hide
and hum sad songs that keep us up all night

With the doorknobs loose
and the pipes that burst
with the fuses blown
and the taps reversed

The calendar requests a meeting to discuss the time we waste
when would be good for you?

And the sidewalk cracks spell the way back home
in one uninterrupted palindrome

The old house keeps all of our receipts
in envelopes secured with rubber bands

Oh the blinking snow
and the dark dispersed
with the smeary moon
with our taps reversed

Note: This is transferred from my old writing collection blog, as I had noticed that it was the most popular page and search referral from Google. Thought it'd be more at home here.

Enjoy; I listened to it numerous times labouring over the different words, and it is a lovely song. It can be found in CBC Radio 3's Make Out Podcast from 2007.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I would almost kill for this poster

The Polaris Prize limited edition poster for Joel Plaskett Emergency's 2007 short list nomination.

I couldn't find it on eBay. If anyone knows how to get a copy, please please please email or tweet me!

Backstage Vancouver interviews Shad

Ask my roommates, I live off drive through fries, two shirts and a tube of toothpaste
I live in a new place, every few days
How I'm living is never staying a minute too late

The full piece at Backstage Vancouver. It's actually an excellent example of incorporating an interview into the body of your text, as opposed to having a floating back-and-forth format. And I'm always a big fan of using lyrics in write-ups. Kudos Lauren :)

My first dose of Shad was on 21 February 2009 at the Biltmore Cabaret, and I’ve been addicted ever since. He is an emcee from London, Ontario, and has been living in Vancouver for over a year now. His shows present his energetic live personality, entertaining freestyle skills, and the unique ability to play guitar and rap simultaneously. What struck me at the concert was his sincere and down-to-earth presence, elevating him immediately to the rank of one of the most genuine people I had ever encountered. You get what you see, and you can’t help but love it. Shad says that the balance between being himself and being a performer is that the music is "still you, but it’s entertaining people and it’s having fun, and to me that’s inseparable.” This is especially evident in his lyrics, which have as much profound yet understated self-reflection as his conversation.

Shad’s awareness reaches much farther than self-reflection. He describes his song “I Heard You Had A Voice Like An Angel/Psalm 137” as his reflection on “an industry that is, to a great extent, damaging culture and damaging people, and yet the face of it is smiling, singing and dancing.” ...

You could say Shad is religious. He believes in God, and it comes through in his lyrics. His clever integration of references sees such variety as Ne-Yo and Moses in sequential breaths. However, Shad’s beliefs lie in something as big as God: love.

... This wisdom of man / is foolishness to God / Don’t build on the sand / or trust in the odds / Be shrewd as the snakes / and innocent as doves / Don’t succumb to hate / overcome hate with love (“Exile”). Shad feels that “the highest wisdom in the world is loving people,” despite the fact that it is counter-intuitive in today’s capitalist society. Shad calls us to action in his songs, even though getting up after being knocked down is a well-known adage. His response to the apathetic and desensitized nature of our generation is that we must do something: “if nothing else we have to take charge of our own life, not let life pass us by and not just become whatever life makes us. We have to be deliberate about choosing who we want to be.” This drive and motivation has propelled Shad this far, and promises to carry him as far as he chooses to go.

For all the times I've seen him around Vancouver, as well as performing for friends, I'm looking forward to delving deeper into Shad's musical musings.

Monday, July 27, 2009

This song just blew my mind

Bye-bye quiet folk rock... hello indie prog-rock! Presenting, the deadliest hook of 2008 -- Black Mountain!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Photos: Joel Plaskett Emergency at Surrey Fusion Fest

Saturday, July 18th. It's 8:00 pm. You've just missed Said The Whale's 7:00 pm set, racing from the Vancouver Folk Festival from one side of Metro Vancouver, to Surrey, in the 'burbs.

But you know, even after you've had a rough day-- your friend's car's been towed, you're severely sunburnt, hungry and exhausted,

You end up at this concert, see Mr. Plaskett and his amazing band the Emergency play (for free nontheless),

And you know...

Everything will Work Out Fine.

More photos from the Joel Plaskett Emergency concert on my Flickr.

And here's the set list from that amazing show.
(minus Come On Teacher, as the emcee jumped the gun in returning to the stage. Boo.)

(Maybe I should start calling my blog earbuds and set lists or something.)

Great Lake Swimmers live at VanFolkFest

Note: also posted at

The following recordings are 3/5 of the Great Lake Swimmers performing their songs Still and Chorus In The Underground live at Jericho Beach for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. They are backed instrumentally by members of The Breakmen and Rock Plaza Central.

Don't mind the hand-wobbliness and occasional crackling... my camera is pretty good at picking up treble and mids, but not the bass drum.

Another video for Basia Bulat's performance is forthcoming.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

VFMF Weekend Review (plus photos)

Writer's note:
Posted at
As Alex (AlexOfAnders) has been so thorough with his Vancouver Folk Music Festival daily recaps, I'll try my best not to overlap.

This past weekend was probably the hottest and brightest on record so far this year in Vancouver. Being located on Jericho Beach, Vancouver Folk Fest had the advantage of drawing in not only music lovers, but curious sunbathers as well. That, along with its tradition of having hippie-ish arts bazaars by its premises, meant that there was an eclectic mix of attendees, from mothers changing babies on beach blankets, to the most hardcore of indie fans.

The festival was run very well this year. There were an abundance of Christmas light-lit porta-potties, which were clean (!). The water refilling stations with local filtered tap water was a nice touch. I didn't eat much, but there was a whole section for food with over 2 dozen vendors. Cute kitschy vendors selling everything from hammocks to hats lined the walkways. I took public transit to get to the festival site, which took about an hour total in commute time from a local municipality (Richmond). So in conclusion, you would not be roughing it in the wild.

Onto the music; there were 8 stages in total, with the main evening stage complemented by 7 numbered, smaller stages.

Friday night (July 17)

I arrived the main evening stage to overhear Joe Pug, a singer-songwriter from the States. I was not super impressed with him; seemed like typical guy-with-guitar fare. However, he had a surprisingly old-soul voice for a 23-year old.

After a short meeting with fellow NxEW-ers at the beer garden (good view of evening stage), I went off to snap some photos of the Weakerthans' set at the main stage. They opened with Night Windows (my favorite song from them) and put on a strong, hits-filled set, especially near the end when they blazed through Civil Twilight, Aside, and Sun in an Empty Room.

John Samson was more than willing to banter back and forth with the audience. Before launching into One Great City!, he threw his support behind those who oppose the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in 2010. This was no surprise, looking at the topic matter addressed in the song. After agreeing to disagree with a few audience members, he mentioned that he'll be at the beer garden after the show, to continue the debate then. Sadly, I cannot confirm whether or not that happened. Read Alex's interview with John Samson here.

After the Weakerthans, Iron & Wine took to the main stage. I'm not very familiar with his music, but he played a hits-filled show as well, according to fellow blogger Lauren from Backstage Vancouver.

Arrested Development, the headliners of the night, were definitely a highlight for me. They've been performing "uplifting hip hop" for over 17 years, and the infectious and joyous noises they make roused the 1000+ crowd to their feet to dance. Everyone from grandpas to hipsters were flinging their hair and swinging their hips. It was a sight to behold and truly a pleasure to witness. The festival's Lantern Committee wandered through the crowds and complemented the music by their light show, and sporadic fireworks went off in English Bay across the waters. It was a magical night. I unfortunately do not have any (good) photos, as I was (fortunately) dancing.

Saturday afternoon (July 18)
My first session of the weekend ("Folkestra") was hosted by Rock Plaza Central, and included members of The Breakmen and Great Lake Swimmers. There really is nothing quite like the experience of lying in the hot sun and listening to some of the most talented musicians serenade an appreciative crowd.
The bands alternated between songs and occasionally contributed to each others' instrumentation. At times, a song sounded like it had the help of a 12 piece backing band, which was what happened for Great Lake Swimmers' Still, which is a beautiful song off their Polaris-shortlisted Lost Channels. Expect my Youtube video of it up on this blog soon...
(On a side note, while they were playing, a pair of dragonflies were courting right up front and centre of the stage. They had the best view.)

Rock Plaza Central played a handful of songs off each of their albums, especially from their latest ...At The Moment of Our Most Needing and the thematic Are We Not Horses from 2006. After the frontman Chris Eaton borrowed Tony Dekker (of Great Lake Swimmers)'s guitar, they rounded up their set with the catchy song My Children, Be Joyful (mp3) which had the entire tent, as well as the audience, singing along.

The Breakmen
, a Vancouver-based folk/roots band, played songs such as That's Where I Lay Down ("written on a day much like this one"), as well as an unnamed one which had the whole stage singing "oohs" for back-up. I don't know their music well but am looking forward to checking them out more.

After the session, we made it over to a nice shaded stage for Basia Bulat's set. I was very excited to see her live for the first time, after falling in love with her voice two years ago. Due to a mix-up with scheduling, or the artist before her overstaying his time, her set began half an hour later than scheduled. That didn't frazzle Bulat, who launched into a high energy foot-stomping set, including hits like In The Night. Erik from the Great Lake Swimmers played guitar and banjo in her backing band.
She wrapped up her 12-song set with Snakes and Ladders and an a capella song, which had her crooning to the audience complete with foot stomping and clapping for percussion. You can read an interview between Alex and Basia here.
After Bulat's set, I raced over to Joel Plaskett Emergency's free set in Surrey, BC for the Surrey Fusion Festival. That adventure will be outlined in a later post.

Sunday evening (July 19)

After bolting between Surrey and Jericho beach (again) after a friend's bridal shower, I made it back in time to catch Rock Plaza Central and Great Lake Swimmers again at a side stage. GLS were headlining that particular stage.

They each performed several songs that they played during the sessions, ramped up, as well as several other songs.

Chris Eaton, lead vocals and guitar for Rock Plaza Central, was clearly appreciative of the large attentive audience. He connected with the audience well, which definitely complemented his band's amazing songwriting and his captivating "scream-folk" voice (as dubbed by me). Once again, they wrapped up their set with the two extremely catchy songs (Don't You Believe The Words of) Handsome Men and Be Joyful. Handsome Men has been stuck in my head ever since their set.

Great Lake Swimmers, whose performance I'd been waiting for the whole weekend, surpassed my expectations with their set. By the time they got on stage, a sizeable crowd had stretched far back, waiting to hear this ethereal band led by Tony Dekker's singular voice. They were not disappointed. The Swimmers played a 12-song long set, strumming through hit after hit. Let's Trade Skins, Chorus in the Underground, Palmistry and Pulling On A Line started the set, while the captivating Various Stages had the entire crowd sighing to the words,
I've seen you in various stages of undress
I've seen you through various states of madness
Basia Bulat joined the Great Lake Swimmers for the ending part of the set, adding a jolt of energy to Your Rocky Spine (which, by the way, totally blows John Mayer's Your Body Is A Wonderland out of the water). The entire set was wrapped up with the beautiful and hopeful Still. I'm sure I speak for the appreciate audience when I say that no one wanted the dream-like set to end. As the sun was setting and music from Mavis Staples floated over from the main stage, Great Lake Swimmers got a standing ovation for being a sparkling highlight of the entire weekend.
Sunburnt and sleep-deprived, I could not have wished for a more soulful, musically-filling weekend.

See a set of photos from Vancouver Folk Fest on my Flickr here.
Here's another very thorough VFMF review by my good friends Mel and Lauren of Backstage Vancouver.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Photos from VFMF up on Flickr

More here.

Basia Bulat

Great Lake Swimmers (x2)

Rock Plaza Central

The Weakerthans

Photos from the Joel Plaskett Emergency concert will be up later tonight or tomorrow.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Condensed, sleep-deprived weekend review

- Got to catch the following artists at VFMF: Weakerthans, Iron & Wine, Arrested Development, The Breakmen, Basia Bulat, Dan Mangan, Rock Central Plaza, and Great Lake Swimmers among others
- Caught Joel Plaskett Emergency (+ Peter Elkas) for free
- Chatted with Basia, offered pie to Dan, and Tony Dekker drew me a guitar
- Grabbed set lists from JPE and GLS shows
- Had my interview questions for Basia used although I couldn't make it personally due to a close friend's bridal shower
- Dancing and praising God in a flowy skirt during Arrested Development's twilight (and night time) performance. (Now how to distill that magnetic, spiritual energy into Sunday mornings?)
- The Lantern Committee's light show at night time during AD's set, and then lining the pathways to lead the crowd out of the park
- "Banjo Wars 2009" between Rock Central Plaza, The Breakmen and Great Lake Swimmers during their session. Lying down right up front feeling like I could float, I could fly, like branches and boats and birds in the sky. (Joel Plaskett)
- Basia Bulat's stomping heels, rich voice and warm attitude
- Hanging out with Alex(OfAnders), Justin, Mel and Lauren. Singing along with Dan Mangan to Robots with Alex and a thousand other people at the main stage.
- Great Lake Swimmers were plucked from the ear of God themselves. Tony Dekker has a voice that not only makes memories, yet takes previous ones and puts a sepia tone to them. Dreamy yet grounded, and singularly spectacular. Read these words:

I'm still a note that's unplayed, ink on a page, I'm still, I'm still
I'm still a cry in the night, lonesome and high, I'm still, I'm still

I'm still tuned to an instrument of greater and unknown design
I'm still looking for direction, some kind of sign

I'm still tuning myself to the great key, I'm still, I'm still
(Great Lake Swimmers, "Still")

After that, it's hard to go over the ughs. I'm extremely sleep deprived and have skipped most normal meals for the past three days, but that's not because of the set up of the festival but how entranced I was with the music. And how long it took to upload pictures and videos onto my computer.
I'll upload some pictures onto Flickr and write a proper write-up on NxEW when I get home. There are a lot of photos, and a couple of videos... depending how the bass turned out in them, I might upload them onto Youtube as well. Don't forget to check back :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Vancouver Folk Fest Preview

Below is my official first full concert review to kick off the Vancouver Folk Music Festival weekend coverage. The original unchopped column, including some free mp3 downloads, can be found here...

This weekend, I will be tweeting, putting up photos on my Flickr, blogging on behalf of NxEW as well as here.
At the Railway Club on June 3, three artists took to the stage to fundraise for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival as part of the VFMF Revue -- Veda Hille, Dan Mangan and Geoff Berner. Each put on a phenomenal set, and if this is any indication of things to come, this year's festival will be a treat for those living in/near Metro Vancouver.

First to play a set is the quirky Veda Hille. She opened with Lucklucky, which was accompanied by the clacking noises of the toy train overhead at the Railway, to good effect. The song, which included a short ode to the Hockey Night in Canada theme, demonstrated Hille's playful theatrical voice well. She played a couple of covers, which included Neil Young's Transformer Man.

Second on the stage is Dan Mangan. Mangan played an eight song set, which included several songs from his upcoming album such as Tina's Glorious Comeback, The Indie Queens Are Coming (which brought Veda Hille back on stage), You Silly Git (a song inspired by his girlfriend), as well as Basket, which is written for his grandfather. Of course, Mangan wrapped up his set with the catchier-than-herpes Robots, which ended with him holding his guitar aloft while walking through the audience, encouraging a sing-a-long.

The final performer of the night was Geoff Berner. The best way to describe Berner and his set that night would be "perpetually intoxicated, irreverent drinking songs," demonstrated by such songs as The Way That Girl Drinks Beer. However, in more than a few occasions, his meandering voice sharpened their focus towards specific points that he wanted to make. The best example is his song The Dead Children Were Worth It, which criticizes the upcoming Vancouver Olympics in 2010. So while his voice (and mind) may wander and drawl, it does once in a while come back and sucker punch you into paying attention.

See you at the show!

Editor's note: Belated photos from VFMF Revue up on my Flickr HERE.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

WCMA 2009 Nominees

The Westrn Canadian Music Awards, which will take place in Brandon MB, have announced their nominees for 2009. The following is a selection of categories and those nominated, and personal notables are italicized.

Blues Recording of the Year
The Twisters - Come Out Swingin' (BC)
Big Dave McLean - Acoustic Blues-Got 'Em From the Bottom (MB)
John Lee Sanders - Bucket Full of Blues (BC)
Amos Garrett - Get Way Back - A Tribute to Percy Mayfield (AB)
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir - Ten Thousand (AB)

Independent Album of the Year
The Waking Eyes - Holding On To Whatever It Is (MB)
Shout Out Out Out Out - Reintegration Time (AB)
Hot Panda - Volcano… Bloody Volcano (AB)
Library Voices - Hunting Ghosts (and other collected shorts) (SK)
the Sheepdogs - The Sheepdogs' Big Stand (SK)

Pop Recording of the Year

Marianas Trench - Masterpiece Theatre (BC)
Hey Ocean - It's Easier to be Somebody Else (BC)
The Awkward Stage - Slimming Mirrors, Flattering Lights (BC)
JP Hoe -The Dear John Letters (MB)
Carly Rae Jepsen - Tug Of War (BC)
Record of the Week Club - Record of the Week Club (MB)

Rap and Hip Hop Album
Moka Only - Carrots and Eggs (BC)
Grand Analog - Touch Your Toes (MB)
Sweatshop Union - Water Street (BC)
Dragon Fli Empire – Redefine (AB)
The Mavericks Team - Election Year (AB)

Rock Recording of the Year
The Waking Eyes - Holding On To Whatever It Is (MB)
Theory of a Deadman - Scars and Souvenirs (BC)
Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (AB)
54-40 - Northern Soul (BC)
The Pack A.D. - Funeral Mix Tape (BC)

Roots Duo/Group Recording of the Year
Chic Gamine - Chic Gamine (MB)
The Deep Dark Woods - Winter Hours (SK)
The Duhks - Fast Paced world (MB)
Scott Nolan - Receiver/Reflector (MB)
Oh My Darling - Oh My Darling (MB)

Roots Solo Recording of the Year
Steve Dawson - Waiting For The Lights To Come Up (BC)
Dan Mangan – Roboteering (BC)
Romi Mayes - Achin In Yer Bones (MB)
Geoff Berner - Klezmer Mongrels (BC)
Ndidi Onukwulu - The Contradictor (BC)

Songwriter of the Year
Romi Mayes - Achin In Yer Bones (MB)
The Duhks - Fast Paced World (MB)
Scott Nolan - Receiver/Reflector (MB)
Chad VanGaalen - Soft Airplane (AB)
JP Hoe - The Dear John Letters (MB)

Festivals Coverage in Vancouver This Weekend

This upcoming weekend is an exciting one in terms of music in Vancouver. Not only is there the annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival, the line-up of which features the lovely Basia Bulat, Great Lake Swimmers, The Weakerthans, Dan Mangan as well as international acts such as Iron & Wine, but Surrey has also shocked with their Fusion Festival line-up, which includes the Joel Plaskett Emergency, Said The Whale, Alex Cuba, among others. Did I mention it's free?

I'll be covering the both of them, to the best of my abilities (and cell phone bill limits) via Twitter, Flickr (for photos), on this blog, as well as on NxEW. Yes, this does mean racing from Jericho Beach, which is in downtown Vancouver, to the suburbs. Below is a tentative schedule of the acts and sessions I'm hoping to catch this upcoming weekend. Of course, if I get sidetracked or blown away by something I happen to pass by, I'll note those as well.

Friday July 17
7 pm - The Weakerthans
8 pm - Iron and Wine
9 pm - Arrested Development

Saturday July 18

10 am - Fresh Folkus (hosted by Basia Bulat; ft. Joe Pug, Kate Reid, Dan Mangan and Great Lake Swimmers)
1:30 pm - Folkestra (hosted by Rock Plaza Central; ft. Great Lake Swimmers and The Breakman)
3:10 pm - Basia Bulat
7 pm - Said The Whale
8 pm - Barney Bentall & The Grand Cariboo Opry
9 pm - Joel Plaskett & The Emergency

Sunday July 19
5:30 - 9:30 pm - Rock Plaza Central Great Lake Swimmers

For the full schedule of the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, click here. (PDF)
For the full schedule of the Surrey Fusion Festival, click here.

To get you hyped up for the weekend, read my preview review of the Vancouver Folk Fest Revue (now say that ten times really quickly).